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The Soapbox: Replacing Sexism With Racism Is Not a Proper Hollaback

street harassment

This post is reprinted from The Huffington Post with the permission of its authors.

What’s the biggest myth about street harassment? That men of color comprise the majority of offenders.

It’s a myth as old as this nation: the idea that Black men are more likely to be sexual predators — especially of white women. Consider D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth Of A Nation,” that builds an entire narrative on the idea of the black brute. From the Scottsboro boys to Emmitt Till, history as well as popular culture, the justice system and virtually all other facets of American society still hold the deeply entrenched notion of Black men as people to be feared.

But the myth doesn’t stop with history. In a recent New York Times article, a White woman living in a mostly Caribbean community (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) gets physically assaulted by a Latino man and wonders if it’s her fault, as if moving into a mostly Caribbean community was the city-dwellers equivalent to “asking for it.” A few years ago, a woman, also writing for The New York Times, reported on her experience doing aid work in the Congo and hearing repeatedly from other European aid workers that sexual harassment, violence, and rape in those areas “is cultural,” instead of, as she duly notes, “a tool of war.” The myth that Black and Latino men are innately sexually aggressive is one that extends beyond our national borders. Keep reading »

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